Skip Navigation
BlackBerry Blog

Letter to BlackBerry Employees from John Chen

BLACKBERRY NEWS / 10.30.23 / John Chen

Dear friends and colleagues,

It is hard to believe that it has been 10 years since I joined BlackBerry. It is true that time flies and memories last forever.

Today I announced, with a very heavy heart, that I am retiring from BlackBerry, on November 4, 2023, now that the Company’s future has been stabilized. You may have heard the story before of how Prem Watsa forced me out of retirement in 2013 with a plea to save BlackBerry, an iconic company beloved to many people including me. How could I say no?

I joined BlackBerry with three key priorities. First, to ensure BlackBerry’s survival by repairing its financial health as the Company was just days away from potential bankruptcy at the time. Second, to establish a new strategy and line up the Company’s capabilities to deliver on that strategy. Third, to set the Company up for long-term growth. Now that each of these priorities has been achieved, the time seems right for me to leave.

As I look back at everything we have experienced and achieved together the list of best moments is a long one. We have built a company that is unquestionably innovative, has a clear purpose, is highly disciplined, and operates with integrity.

As a team, we have established ourselves as an automotive industry leader with QNX, growing our footprint in the market by almost fifteen times in the past decade. We have created IVY, a game-changing edge-to-cloud data platform for the IoT with exciting potential. We have maintained our leadership in the UEM industry with determination. We are setting new standards in AI cybersecurity, holding more than five times the AI/ML patents than competitors. We have a secure communications portfolio (AtHoc, SecuSUITE, BBMe) that is unrivaled. And the list goes on.

I feel proud to have kept this great company alive and to have defined a strategy that has kept us true to our founding mission and values. The Company now has a unique opportunity to build a world we can all be proud of – a trusted, software-defined world.

I am saddened to be sharing the news of my retirement from BlackBerry with you with little notice. However, I felt it was important that I wait for Project Imperium to run its course to avoid disrupting this critical next step for the Company; a company that so many of us have poured our blood, sweat, and tears into.

Know that I am leaving feeling deeply conflicted but also with being sure that it is the right time for it. The past 10 years have been a journey with ups and downs, but I am grateful for the time spent and I take many treasured memories with me. My sincere thanks to everyone who has made the time memorable and supported me. I wish BlackBerry great success ahead and will be cheering the Company on from the sidelines.

I wish that we could have all said goodbye in person and hope our paths will cross again.

John Chen

John Chen

About John Chen

John Chen is Executive Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of BlackBerry. Appointed in November 2013, John led BlackBerry’s turnaround stabilizing the company’s financial position, ensuring its viability, and pivoting its operations from consumer hardware to enterprise software. Today the company takes advantage of the current growth opportunities in IoT and Cybersecurity and is pioneering the convergence of these two markets.

John is a distinguished business leader and proven turnaround executive with over 40 years of engineering and management experience. Prior to joining BlackBerry, John served as Chairman and CEO of Sybase Inc. where he re-invented the company and achieved 55 consecutive quarters of profitability during his 15-year tenure.

Recognized as a thought leader and as a respected voice in foreign policy, John has testified before Congress on U.S.–China trade relations and was appointed by U.S. President George W. Bush to serve on the President's Export Council. In 2006, he was appointed co-chair of the Secure Borders and Open Doors Advisory Committee. Additionally, John chaired the U.S.-China Policy Advisory Roundtable for the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), served on the Board of the National Committee on U.S. China Relations since 2012, and has been a member of the Committee of 100 since 1997 and its Chairman from 2009-2011.

John graduated magna cum laude from Brown University with a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering and a master's in electrical engineering from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). John has an honorary professorship from Shanghai University, and honorary doctorates from San Jose State University, City University of Hong Kong, and Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. John has received awards from the U.S.-Asia Institute, the U.S.-China Policy Foundation, the California-Asia Business Council, and the U.S.-Pan Asian American Chamber of Commerce Education Foundation.

John served on the Board of Directors for The Walt Disney Company (2004-2019) and Wells Fargo & Co. (2006-2018) and as a trustee of Caltech (2008-2022). John is an Advisory Board member of the US Chamber China Center. He is also active in the not-for-profit community, and is a board member of the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations, member of CFR, national trustee of The First Tee and Governor of the San Francisco Symphony.